HomeOutdoorsNewsScientists Predict Florida Will Be Major Hotbed for Wildfires in 2023: Report

Scientists Predict Florida Will Be Major Hotbed for Wildfires in 2023: Report

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Each wildfire season, Americans turn their attention to the west as a decades-long megadrought sparks blazes across the Plains, the Rockies, and the Pacific Coast. However, as wildfire season comes to an end for the year, scientists are predicting that Florida, as well as other regions across the interior Southeast, will become a major hotbed for wildfires in the new year.

The New York Post reports outlooks released by the National Interagency Fire Center show what could potentially be above-average wildfire activity in Florida as well as other Southern states. Wildfire weather will likely expand north along the Interstate 10 corridor, as well as on the northern Peninsula and Southwest coast. Experts also expect fire wildfire activity to increase along I-95, and the coastal plains of Georgia and both Carolinas.

Florida’s 2023 wildfire activity is likely to spark as about 80% of the United States continues to undergo a major drought. The new reports precede what the news outlet states is typically the Sunshine State’s driest months of the year. On average, Florida loses an estimated 200,000 acres to 4,000+ wildfires every year.

Regions and communities across Florida most heavily impacted by drought, and therefore most at risk for wildfire activity, are located along the state’s panhandle. Impacted communities include Pensacola, Panama City, and Tallahassee.

Experts Concerned ‘Salt-Cured Fuels’ Could Potentially Spark Wildfires in Florida

Because regions across much of southern Florida saw mass amounts of rainfall at the end of the summer following Hurricane Ian, it’s strange to think that much of the state continues to face the consequences of drought conditions, most prominently a spike in wildfires. However, there are a few major reasons why, despite historic hurricanes, Florida could become a hotbed for wildfires next year.

Above all else, scientists state that salt-cured vegetation, essentially greenery and foliage soaked by saltwater during major storm surges, has dried out. Therefore, just as dead brush serves to fuel fires in the West, this vegetation could fuel serious blazes across the Sunshine State.

A NIFC outlook more specifically read, “Several agencies have expressed concern that salt-cured fuels associated with Ian’s historic storm surge could easily burn at any moment. Because of this and the likelihood of drought development this winter, southwest Florida is included in above normal potential [for fire danger] for February and March.”

Further, part of the reason Florida faces increased wildfire danger is that the U.S. is preparing to see a rare “triple-dip La Niña.” Forecasters predict La Niña will endure well into 2023.

Essentially, a La Niña winter this year means that certain regions of the U.S. will see colder, drier temperatures throughout the season. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean those regions will see more snow or precipitation in general. This, for the most part, is what leads to increased drought conditions.